Partnership Working in Difficult Times

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2011 Health Care Service Group Conference
25 November 2010
Carried as Amended

Conference believes that the greatest test of the effectiveness of social partnership between governments, employers and trade unions is whether it can deliver real gains for staff and patients in difficult times.

Conference recognises that, since 1997, partnership working has delivered real benefits for NHS staff and helped improve patient care, in all four countries of the UK and at regional and local levels.

Partnership working has facilitated greater staff engagement. Studies by Aston University, using the staff and patients survey results have shown conclusively that high levels of staff engagement in NHS organisations improves the patient experience and healthcare outcomes.

In all four countries, partnership working has given trade unions real influence in ensuring that workforce issues are to the fore when developing health policy. Strong leadership has helped embed partnership working at regional and local level, although it is recognised that this is a journey that is not yet complete in some NHS employing organisations.

Despite the election of a Coalition Government intent on cutting public services and the top down re-organisation of the NHS in England, Conference believes that it remains in our members’ interests to continue to undertake partnership working with governments and employers to seek solutions to challenges and problems.

However we also recognize that in the current political climate of wholescale reorganization and cuts this will be a difficult process and that in some cases it will not be possible to find joint solutions. It is vital that we focus on recruitment and organization of members and activists to build our union strength to defend jobs and services. Within any partnership arrangements we maintain our right to criticise governments and employers and prioritise our independent organisation so that we can bring a strong voice to the negotiating table.

Conference therefore calls upon the SGE to prioritise the following work to:

1.Develop human resources frameworks and policies that maximise job security and avoid redundancies;

2.Uphold the NHS Constitution (England) and ensure its application during this period of change;

3.Ensure successor Regional Social Partnership arrangements are put in place following the abolition of SHAs in England;

4.Ensure that Social Partnership arrangements include clear lines of accountability within our union;

5.Defend and extend trade union facility time;

6.Continue the work to embed partnership working at local level including in GP surgeries, commissioning consortia and other private contractors.